Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A tale of citizen journalism

I want to be clear that I am not attacking the writer of this story. The fact that the newspaper has turned the keys to its website over to citizen journalists is the newspaper's fault, not the person who posts there. The story may have been written by a young man with little journalism experience, but the fault lies with the organization that allows the posting of raw copy before an editor lays an eye on it.

Here is what was posted Monday morning:

Grand Blanc boy's bowling lose's conference match saturday
Mike Novick, January 11, 2010 11:21 a.m.

Grand blanc boy's bowling team bowl well saturday but Walled lake northern just bowled better.

Walled lake northern won both baker game with a total 430 to grand blanc's 340.Grand Blanc lose the first regular match 1007 to 945 grand blanc was led by senior dean tobias 236 and freshmen Cody gerou 229.

Grand Blanc won the second team game 1040 to 954 being led by Jordan Ruszkowski 265,Dean Tobias 232. Grand blanc won totals for the regular games but losing both baker games put them in a big hole.

Grand Blanc was lead by Dean Tobias 236,232,Jordan Ruszkowski 196,265 and Cody Gerou 229,210

Grand blanc fell to 0-2 in conference play 2-2 overall

An editor eventually arrived a day later and cleaned up the mess, but this posting of raw citizen journalism is jarring to folks who have been in the business and knows what goes into the actual writing, editing and production of stories.


Anonymous said...

"More than just the score . . . HEY! HOWZ about some COMEDY!!!!!"

Seriously, as I was winding things up with this wonderful, ethics-laden company last year, one of the suck-up cheerleaders who was staying on said to me -- point-blank, straight-faced -- "Our online product will be a success because of the respect our name has with the community!"

I think he was about ready to take off his shoe and start beating it on a table.

Yeah. Lots and lots of respect. Respect which took decades to establish, and nurture. Unfortunately, the people who commanded that respect have left the building.

And, thanks to crap such as the above bowling "story," respect has walked out, too.

Anonymous said...

Kind of hurts the credibility of the site -- whether you relate it to mlive, or the individual newspaper... This concern was addressed two years ago, when community users began to be recruited. I'm pleased to see someone listened???

richardzowie said...

What's sad about this pathetic example of citizen journalism, Jim, is it's in other industries. A high school friend who's a talented artist went to college for an art degree? Guess what? She's losing graphic design work because employers figure if a person knows how to use Photoshop and other art software, never mind they don't really have the talent or training to become an artist. Those people do their work at a fraction of what my friend charges.

This paper that published this bowling account is getting exactly what it paid for: $0.

Anonymous said...

And, there is still an error in the last line.

inky said...

If the Journal were a plumbing pipe, this story is the equivalent of raw sewage.

Anonymous said...

That hurts to read, and shame on the newspaper for letting it go like that. It definitely hurts their own credibility.

I'm almost surprised It WaznT tYped LiKE ThiS...

Krystal said...


That really takes me back to my assistant editor days, and the stuff I'd see come in from the interns. I always wondered if some of them had ever actually studied journalism, or English for that matter!

mike novick said...

Wow attack someone for writing about high school bowling you should have fought to keep your newspaper off the internet for free. Maybe you would still have a job.

Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Mike:

The first thing a good writer should know how to do is read. Please re-read the first sentence in the blog post. Never mind, I'll put it here:

"I want to be clear that I am not attacking the writer of this story. The fact that the newspaper has turned the keys to its website over to citizen journalists is the newspaper's fault, not the person who posts there."

This was not about you, it was about the editors who have abandoned their responsibilities.

As a matter of fact, many of us did question and try to keep us from offering our stuff for free, but the people you now work for, thought that was a bad idea.

I wish you well in your career, but if you are good at anything else, and you want to make enough money to survive, you may want to consider employment in anything but journalism.

Your writing will improve, but the job prospects in newspapers won't.

Good luck,


mike novick said...

Jim should have been more clear was not talking about you some of the other people were a little rough no big deal, I do not work for flint urinal. I’m not a writer have no desire to be. I have my pension from GM so I’m not in it for the money my son bowls for Grand Blanc that why I’m doing it, no one at the journal was reporting about it

Anonymous said...

This is embarrassing, sure. But you make it seem as if it ran in the print edition. In fact, this didn't even appear on the main Flint Journal sports page. The only way this was found was if you are the biggest Grand Blanc bowling fan in the world or if someone who works there sent it to you so you could use it as your latest example of "everyone at the Flint Journal is a bunch of morons since us old-timers left, LOLZ!" I'm going with option 'b.' You tryin too hard, son. This post you reference was probably seen by, at most, 15 people. I would take the under.

Jim of L-Town said...

Mike, we are actually more in agreement than you may think. The Journal used to cover bowling quite extensively, but as they shrunk their staff it got less and less coverage.

My only point is that high school bowling should be covered by newspaper staff, family members should not have to cover it.

I think it's wonderful that you want to get coverage for the team, the person who sent me this item just believed that the paper should be helping you put it into a newspaper format and not allowing the raw copy just appear in print.

For 200 years before the last two, no copy was published before it was checked by one or more editors.

That includes my copy. I will freely admit, and so would my former editors, that often my copy was not ready for publication when I handed it in. I tried to read over my own copy, but typos and errors would sometimes slip by my own reading.

Yesterday, I wrote a piece here about my trip to the Red Wings hockey game. When I posted it I identified the team as the Carolina Panthers. I knew better, but I had a brain fart. It happens to all of us.

That's why any copy, mine or yours, should go through an editor before it appears publicly.

Again, my beef is not with you, I happen to believe the paper would not be in the difficulty they are today if they had spent more time covering local sports, including rec league softball, they would be in somewhat better shape than they are today.

I apologize for singling out your story, there are plenty of examples every day of a lack of editing, especially on the web page.

My high game, by the way, is 227. But that was a number of years ago.


Anonymous said...

GM retiree? Isn't that the same company that discourages Americans from buying foreign cars (cars that often are made with cheaper labor)? And now you're helping to make it easier for a newspaper to continue depriving professional journalists of work by writing for free. If you'd ever been laid off from the line and were replaced by someone with no experience and who's been given a crash course in how to assemble cars, you'd probably be very upset. I can't speak for others, but my issue is that it's harder and harder to earn a living as a writer because papers find far too many people, (who, frankly, can't write) willing to write for free.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - About the GM comment, that was my sentiment exactly! But you stated it much better than I would. (hence I am not a jounalist.) Although I don't think the blog was meant towards the author, you have a very valid point.

mike novick said...

Point taken have not hear about your profession being downsides do understand. I quest the newspapers have not reported this much wonder why so I will honor your troubles and no longer report for the journal.

If there is one thing I learn in my 31 years being a UAW member is stand up for American job good luck and don’t be afraid to speak your mind Anonymous ???

Anonymous said...

@mike: fair enough. :)